Be Positive

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The outside world can be a negative, scary and pessimistic place; we can’t afford to be negative in our own thoughts as well.  Unfortunately, negative self-talk is a common theme.  It is something that I see and hear daily inside the walls of our gym, and it bums me out.  It doesn’t matter the age, gender, or ability level. We talk down to ourselves, tell ourselves we can’t do something.  But if we can’t be our own biggest fan, who will?! 

cat mirror self talk

In our gym, negative self-talk ranges from elementary schoolers who are hesitant about trying an obstacle course or playing a tag game because, “I’m not fast”, or “I’m too slow”.  To middle school boys who are so lost in their own identity that they aren’t sure what they are capable of, they just know they’re not good at it, (whatever “it” is).  To those high school girls who are one bad hair day away from a complete breakdown.  To the Mom who is trying to regain her health and body back after popping out a couple kids who repeatedly says “I’ll never be able to do a pull up!” And we can’t forget the middle aged man who “Will never be able to touch his toes”. 

self talk anchorman

A simple tactic to try and help gain some quick momentum and start having positive thoughts is adding 3 little letters to any statement: “YET”.  Too often we hear “I’m not strong enough to do that” or, “I can’t do a pull up.” Now by simply adding, yet, everything changes.  It identifies where we currently are, what we need to work on and it gives us something to reach for.  

Owning the fact that we are a work-in-progress and not a final version is vital for a positive self image.  How sad would it be if we lived in this world, but we never changed or progressed.  Constantly trying to learn and develop as a person is a huge part of life, and something that Todd Bumgardner and the Strength Faction does so well.  Let’s get better, just to get better!

On a more serious note, there may be some deep seeded psychological reasons why we doubt ourselves, question our abilities and we’re our own Debbie Downer.  These may need to be addressed through long-term work with a qualified professional and I strongly urge you to reach out to someone if you are in need.

But what we all can do is to give yourself a little pep-talk, speak positive affirmations, start gratitude journalling, and giving back through community service.  Constantly try new things, don’t be afraid to fail; the only true failure is not learning from your mistakes.  Keep moving forward, keep getting better.

dog awesome

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How My Island Turned Into An Archipelago

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In January I made a decision that changed the rest of my career.  I made a decision to do something for myself.  I joined the Strength Faction.

borat meme

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3oifgp

The end of 2016 was a whirlwind.  I was planning a wedding, booking a honeymoon, and the gym was the busiest it was all year.  I had lost the drive for my own training.  There were “more important” things to do.  I had to write programs, make seating charts, pick out tablecloths, there were emails to answer, there were flyers to make, the list was endless. (Shoutout to Kathleen for actually doing most of the wedding planning). Training for me just wasn’t a priority.  I didn’t have a lifting buddy, I wasn’t adhering to a specific training program, my continuing education slowed down, I was basically on an island, shut off to the rest of the world.  Here’s a picture of me right before my wedding:

castaway
https://kodifiretvstick.com/how-to-install-castaway-kodi/

During a Facebook binge session (read above where I was too busy to train) I saw the one and only Marco Sanchez make a post about the Strength Faction (someone probably owes him a t-shirt) and how the Faction was where all the cool kids were.  So, being the young impressionable person I am, and knowing that everything you read on the internet is true, I gave it a shot.

the office meme

http://www.killthehydra.com/movies-television/the-shots-you-dont-take/

The things I liked about the Faction:

First and foremost, I looked like I was part of the group.  Todd, Chris, and Mike are all bald and have beards.  I am bald and have a beard, sweet.

  1. Training Program-
    • Chris and the guys kill it with the training program.
    • Takes programming for myself out of the equation.
    • Decision fatigue couldn’t hinder my training process.
  2. Intentional Community-
    • These dudes have created a place where some of best people in the fitness industry come together to converse, make jokes, and help one another grow.
    • It’s really like being on a team again, a long distance, kick-ass team.
    • The only other thing that comes close to this is the CFSC.
  3.   Comfort Zone-
    • It forced me to get out of my comfort zone.
    • It got me off my island.

When you are solo, it’s easy to fall into a routine of only training and programming one way, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap with your own workouts of only doing the things you are good at doing.  Having someone else program for you can be a very humbling experience.  But, if you eat your humble pie, you can learn a metric crap-ton. Not to mention, you can always get stronger!  Thanks to having a program written for me, I pulled 500lbs for the first time, and it was for a double.  My training has been reinvigorated.

They say that your net worth = your network, and if that’s the case, I just got a whole bunch richer.  The guys and gals in the Faction are from all over the U.S. and there are even a couple across the pond in England.  This speaks to the community that has been created by Todd, Mike, and Chris.  There are a ton of Facebook groups for fitness and other certifications, but they lack substance.  The Faction community has the intention of getting everyone who participates better.  Everyone has experiences to share, insight to give, and beer to trade.  Allowing yourself to open up to a bunch of strangers can be tough, but giving that vulnerability will yield much more in return.

The Strength Faction runs quarterly and has a seminar at the end of each session (I am currently in the second go around with the Faction).  The seminar for the first session of 2017 was in Chicago at Mike’s gym Rebell Strength and Conditioning – aside: check it out if you haven’t.  Now, back to getting me off my island and out of my comfort zone… I suffer from anxiety.. and more specifically travel based anxiety.  I’m much more of a homebody- and that’s cool, but seeing new places is pretty cool too.  So, through some of the Facebook threads about who was going to the Chicago seminar, a fellow Factioner Casey Lee, from the great state of Vermont, was making plans and looking for people to share an Airbnb… I said to myself, “Just do it”, and reserved my spot in the Real World Faction Edition.

I would be flying out of Logan airport on Friday and staying in Chicago, a city I’ve never been to, staying with 4 people I’ve never met in person before, attending a 2 day seminar with more people I’ve never met before… what could go wrong?!  The anxious side of me said “Everything, idiot!”.

The days counted down, my anxiety crept up.  The group of people I was going to be staying with had created a text chain so that we could all stay in contact.  Because of this intentional community created by the Faction, I already felt comfortable enough with them to disclose my anxiety and my apprehensions about the weekend.  The convo went something like this:

The trip comes, and I’m all excited.  I get myself on the bus to travel to the airport, check my self in through security (the worst thing ever)  and find the nearest bar-stool to settle my nerves (healthy coping skills).  Boarding time arrives and I head towards the back of the plane to my luxurious middle seat.  There is a smiling man in a red shirt sitting in the aisle seat who makes me look like a child (I’m not the size of a child).. I say, “Looks like it’s our lucky day” and squeeze myself into my seat.  We finally push back, and only make it about 15 yards before we stop.  If you are keeping score at home, anxiety level is high.  The Captain comes over the loud speaker and says there’s a mechanical issue that shouldn’t take too long to fix (anxiety level +1). So me and Big Red just chill, he’s doing some version of Sudoku with fractions (seriously?) and I’m listening to an Audible book.. an hour goes by… Captain comes on again and asks everybody to get off the plane (anxiety level + 2) .  Flight delayed.  Reschedule for an hour later.  Then two more hours..  final departure time.. 8 hours later.  Awesome.  Anxiety level +5.  So Big Red and I went and got some food, talking about what he did for work, and eventually I took a nap (anxiety level -2).  I was in a good spot, I was in control of what I could control, and knew that if I could make it through a delay in the most anxious place for me, the rest of the weekend would be cake.   Plus, I had a bunch of strangers expecting me to have a slumber party.

I landed in Chicago around 1 am and made it to the Airbnb just before 2 am. Unfortunately, the other half of the group went through worse airport adventures than I did and weren’t able to make it to Chicago (womp womp, sorry Steph and Kristin).  Trey and Casey were waiting for me at the place, and made sure I was settled before turning in.  Again, Intentional Community.

Because of one single choice I made back in January, the landscape of my career changed indefinitely.  My network exploded, my brain exploded with knowledge from the weekend thanks to listening to guys like Todd, Chris, Mike, Andy McCloy and Dan Frantz speak. I was able to break bread and have a few drinks with very successful and humble people in an industry that I love. And more importantly, I was able to face one of my biggest fears and even with curve ball after curve ball, I was able to handle it.  It was an absolute stellar weekend.  Joining the Strength Faction was the best thing for me professionally as well as personally that I have in a my adult life. My island became an archipelago.

Thank you, Faction!

How One Client Helped The Rest

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I have been lucky enough to work with an awesome kid for just about a year now, and it’s changed how I coach every single one of my athletes and adult clients.  Keep on reading to figure out how!

Initially we worked together through a youth group with about 15 other boys and girls in a play based and agility style conditioning class.   This past summer we worked together individually with more of a strength training focus and that is really when I started learning.  He has since rejoined a smaller group with school back in session and is absolutely crushing it.  He is energetic, unbelievably intelligent, super into sports.. and just so happens to have Autism.  He doesn’t allow it to define who he is, or his capabilities; but that is a different topic completely.

 

Now let’s get one thing straight from the start.. this article isn’t about Autism.  I’m not an Autism specialist, I’m not an Occupational Therapist, I am a strength coach.  This article is simply about how this great young man has helped me become a better coach and what he has shown me about being a good person.

 

So back to how working with his has helped me coach all my other athletes and clients.  It is pretty simple… CUEING!

 

Zero of my cues were hitting home.  I pride myself on that being one of my strengths as a coach.  I feel that I am able to word things in a different context depending on the athlete’s history, interests, etc.  Having a hard time getting what I wanted to get across really made me think (which isn’t a bad thing), what could I do to fix this?  Why weren’t my cues making sense?  What is it that needs to change?

 

After many nights thinking about what I could add in, or what I could do differently, or what else I needed to do… it hit me…. DO LESS.

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I was overwhelming him with cues.  Do this, think of this, chest up, knees bent, and so on.  I am getting anxious just thinking about how much I must have said to the kid just for one exercise.  There had to be a better way for me to get the result of what the cue was intended for.

 

I needed to be more precise. It needed to be in a positive manner. Reinforcement had to be immediate.

 

Precise in the way that it needed to be very literal, very short, and zero fluff.  He didn’t want a story about why, he didn’t need filler words, and he would do exactly what he thought I meant, so I needed to choose my wording wisely.

 

Not positive as in “RA RA, you can do it!”, but more: DO this, rather than, DON’T do that.  By only giving the cue for what you want, rather than what you don’t want, you don’t allow the negative thoughts or negative actions to be a thought.  Very similarly to a positive swing thought in golf.  If you think “Don’t hook it” right before you swing, chances are you are going to hook it.  So in this example instead of me cueing: “Don’t round your back”  I made sure to say: “Stay tall, chest up”.  Each cue evokes a different thought and action.

 

If you have ever owned a puppy, you know that immediate reinforcement is crucial if you want something to be learned.  I feel it is the same when trying to teach somebody something they have never done before.  In the gym you need to positively reinforce good posture, good positioning, and correct form.  You also need to stop things in their track if it is incorrect.  Stopping  your client before a deadlift  starts because their form isn’t correct isn’t just immediate reinforcement, its just good common sense practice if you actually want to keep clients.  But what it does, is it teaches them how to be in the right position from the get-go.

 

Now with that being said, I’m not saying that there needs to be reinforcement for each individual rep.  That hits back on being precise.  There isn’t always need for filler commentary.  “Good”, or “nice” after each rep gets old fast.

 

I have found that once I have been working with a client for a while, important “reminders” can be used really well to reaffirm the things I’ve already taught.  “Get tight”, “Big chest”,  “Steady pull”,  are all reminders that I will give before a deadlift to a client that I know knows how to deadlift.

 

By tightening up my cueing, we have made huge strides in posture, body control, and overall strength.  What we say as coaches have huge impacts on what our athletes or clients perceive.  It is always important to evaluate our coaching, see what is working, see what isn’t working, and figure out how to get better.  The better we are as coaches, the better off our athletes or clients will be.

These three things are grossly overly simplified.  They are barely even scratching the surface of what cueing can not only do for an athlete’s performance, but for your own coaching ability   If you are looking for some real serious info on the importance of cueing Nick Winkelman and Brett Bartholomew are two that I would immediately start following.

Intervention Tools for the Cardio Junkie

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If you were to show somebody a picture of an elite marathon runner or an Olympic sprinter and ask which they would prefer to look like, most would choose the sprinter.  Unfortunately, many gym-goers strive to look like the sprinter, but train like the marathon runner.  Converting these cardio junkies into lifters can be a tricky and arduous road.

Cardio? you mean running to the squat rack before someone else gets to it? - Cardio? you mean running to the squat rack before someone else gets to it?  overly manly man

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3sqe8x

 

The biggest difference between the marathon runner body and the sprinter body is muscle.  Plain and simple.  The sprinter has stronger, leaner, and more appealing musculature. People want the swoop of the hamstring, the definition in their quads, and a firm round backside.  Well, that’s only done by lifting heavy things and heavy heart beating conditioning.

marathon-vs-sprinter

http://anthonymychal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/marathon-vs-sprint.jpg

 

Now first and foremost, heavy is a relative term, and your heavy shouldn’t be the same 2 months into lifting as it is 2 years into lifting.  Two major barriers that stop people from strength training are usually that they are afraid that they’ll get bulky (which we all know is a load of crap) and the second is that some of the lifts are “uncomfortable”.  The trap bar hurts your hands, we don’t like the 1/2 kneeling position on a hard floor, the bar hurts on hip thrusts and squats, the struggle to get the clips on the bar is real, and the list goes on and on.

 

There are simple ways to combat these excuses: cut up yoga mats, bleacher seat cushions, and barbell clamps. These may seem like random things, but they will go a long way in the journey of converting the cardio junkie into a strength training fiend.

 

Cut up yoga mats:  Take an old yoga mat, and cut a horizontal strip off of one end, then cut that strip into 1/4ths.  This will create grip pads.  Simple grip pads will make gripping a barbell, dumbbell, or trap bar much more comfortable.  A lot of times, the discomfort of the grip is the determining factor in adding more weight to the bar or even performing the lifts in general. Humans will take the path of least resistance, and this is true for in the weight room as well.  It is a very inexpensive way to get people to lift heavier.

 

Bleacher seat cushions:  If you are on a budget like most gym owners, Airex pads are things of folklore and fairy tales.  But a cheap bleacher cushion from the dollar store will last long enough and give ample padding for movements like 1/2 kneeling presses, padding for the elbows on body saws, and even help enough for barbell hip thrusts.  Spending $20 bucks every couple months for a handful of bleacher seat cushions is much more feasible than $75 for one Airex pad.

Clamps instead of clips:  Women tend to have smaller hands, which can cause a lot of trouble if their gym only has traditional clips.  Believe it or not, this can be one of the biggest reasons why women are hesitant to use barbells in general.  Sometimes it takes both hands to open the clip wide enough to get on the end of the barbell, and then it is even more difficult to get the clip tight enough that the weights are fastened.  A clamp instead of a clip will be easier for most, as it should be much easier to get onto the barbell.

The bigger issue may be the fact that a lot of people have no idea what the hell they are supposed to do when training. They have never been taught how to set up the squat rack, or how to properly load up a barbell, or which way the clip should be facing. Never mind, which lifts to perform, in which order, and how to do them safely. As a coach, it is vital that you educate your clients on how to set up and adjust the rack to the correct height, how to safely load and unload a bar, which way to set the clips for the easiest way to put on the clip and take off the clip, and hopefully you’ll work with them long enough that you can educate them on exercise selection, sets/reps schemes and longevity in the weight room.

Image result for teach them enough that they dont need you anymore

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting someone to fully commit to strength training, but with these simple tips, you can ease in the transition to getting them to lift more weight and becoming more comfortable strength training.

For more tips, tricks, and advice on training beginner weightlifters, please feel free to send an email to Strebelp@gmail.com.

Movements Not Muscles

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Movements Not Muscles

 

You send your cars to the mechanic, you send your kids to tutors, you enlist advisors for your finances, yet you have full capabilities of creating your own workout program??  Get real.  Your program consists of bench press, lat pull-down, bicep curls, and triceps push downs.   3 sets of 10 for everything, rinse and repeat every day, and you wonder why you never make any progress…

Everybody should look in a mirror, and train what you CAN’T see more than what you can see.  What does that mean?  It means your back is probably weaker than it should be, your glutes are underdeveloped, and you don’t train your hamstrings.  You probably look like a bulldog.  Your shoulders are rounded forward, you can’t fully extend your elbows, and you feel like you’re choking if you put your hands over your head.

Now don’t get all pissed off yet; you’re working hard and doing better than those who aren’t in the gym, but you could be getting more bang for your buck if you put your hard work towards working smart and working hard.

Your body doesn’t move in muscles.  It moves in patterns.  So train your body in movement patterns.  Now that probably offended a lot of bodybuilders, so let’s dive into that a little deeper… If you are a competitive bodybuilder and are looking solely for aesthetics and symmetry, then by all means, isolate and train the shit out of the muscle group.  But get ready to dedicate at least 2 hours per night in the gym, and completely lock down your nutrition, give up all restaurants, and drinking alcohol.

But if you are looking to get strong, look like you work out, move better, be pain free, and still enjoy a burger and a beer, keep on reading…

There are 4 essential movement patterns, and if you read anything Dan John puts out, there’s 4+1. So if you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple years and haven’t read his work, start. (You’re welcome).

Push, pull, hinge, bend at the knee, add the 5th, and call it the core (although I’m not in love with the term).  If you are under the Dan John school of thought, the 5th is loaded carries.  Let’s break this down by category…

 

Push

The great thing about these patterns is that they are very simple.  A pushing pattern simply means to push something away from you or to push yourself away from something else.  There are two pushes…. horizontal and vertical.  Now going back to you looking like a bull dog, you should put less emphasis on pushing and focus more on pulling, but a good sound program will have both.

Horizontal:  Bench press, dumbbell press, push ups, 1 arm dumbbell bench, cable press, etc.

Vertical: military press, push press, 1/2 kneeling press, handstand push ups, etc.

 

Pull

Pulling movements simply mean, pull something towards your body or pull your body towards something else.  Pulling is underutilized by the majority of people in the gym. Your back musculature goes back up to the mirror test.. you can’t see your back facing a mirror, so you should probably train more pulls than pushes.  A lot of really smart people say 2:1 pull to push ratio just to be safe.  Just like pressing, there are two variations…horizontal and vertical.

Horizontal:  1 arm row, seated cable row (but stand your lazy ass up, you already sit too much) 1 arm cable row, and probably the best thing you can do for your scapular health are ring rows.

Vertical: Lat pull downs (don’t be lazy and stand up), X-pull downs, pull ups, chin ups.  If you are a pull up ninja, stop doing so many reps, and try adding external loads for fewer reps.

 

Hinge

This is single handedly the biggest movement pattern missed by the majority of gym-goers.  The hinge is a movement that is initiated through the hips.  With the amount of time people sit down, people forget how to use their asses.  Well luckily there are ways to wake them up…

There are numerous ways to train the hip hinge movement, but first, you need to be able to do it properly.  This means with a flat back.  Start by using a dowel that is in contact with the back of your head, mid back, and backside.  Then push your butt backwards until you are at about 45 degrees.

Now there is another thing we need to take into consideration when we are going to train the hinging pattern.  You need to be able to touch your toes.  This is something you need to do on a daily basis, if you have a job where you can’t wear flip flops and have to tie your shoes every day.  If you can’t touch your toes, you need to Google the name Michael Mullin, or any other PRI expert, and start with that before anything else.  But that is a whole different can of worms to dive into.

For this article, let’s assume you can touch your toes and you can do a hip hinge with a PVC pipe or dowel…

Hinge: Deadlift, trap bar deadlift (it’s a hybrid movement), RDL, kettlebell swing variations, single leg deadlift, hip thrust.

 

Knee Dominant

Knee dominant movements are movements in which you are bending at your knees.  This movement can be done with both legs on the ground, or with only one.  Again, these patterns are very simple, bend at your knees.

Knee Dominant: squats, lunges, split squats, rear foot elevated split squat, pistol squat.

 

Core

When most people hear the word core training, they think of thousands of sit ups, crunches, and those useless side bend things.  Well hopefully this will teach you how to truly create core strength. If you are looking for the aesthetics of a 6-pack, lower your body fat %.

First off, think of anti movement for this one.  Your core is made to resist movement, not create movement.  When people fail to stabilize their core, they typically end up rotating with their lumbar spine (which isn’t made to rotate) and end up with back pain.  For simplicity, think of Dan John’s loaded carries as the Core’s awesome +1 date.

Anti-core training

Anti-(Lateral)Flexion-  this is where the loaded carries play a huge role. Farmers carries, 1 arm farmers carries, X-Walks, bottoms up kettlebell carries, rack carries. Essentially carrying any external load will cause you to start to hunch over (flexion).  Resist that feeling, and stay tall.

Anti-Rotation-  Pallof Press variations have to be your go to here.

Anti-Extension-  Swiss ball stir the pots, ab wheel roll outs, body saws. Or any plank variation.

 

Putting it all together..

Ok, great.  You learned all of the movement patterns and now have some ideas of what those patterns look like. Now what?  Put them all together into a badass workout. Here’s an example of a 3 day split.

      Day 1

Push- Vertical

Hip- Bilateral Variation

Core- 2 Hand Carry

Mobility–  Upper Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

Pull- Horizontal

Knee- Single Leg

Core- Anti- Extension

Mobility- Lower Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

        Day 2

Push- Horizontal

Hip- Single Leg

Core- 1 Hand Carry

Mobility–  Upper Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

Pull-  Vertical

Knee- Bilateral

Core- Anti-Rotation

Mobility–  Lower Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

       Day 3

Push- 1 Arm  Vertical

Hip- Bilateral Variation

Core-  Loaded Carry (Waiter’s Walks, X-Walk, Bottoms-Up Walk)

Mobility–  Upper Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

Pull-  Horizontal

Knee- Single Leg

Core- Anti-Extension

Mobility–  Lower Body Stretch/Mobility Drill

 

If you have any other questions about movement patterns or setting up your own workout.  Contact strebelp@gmail.com for more information.

 

Let The Kids Play!

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This post is an add on to a shorter column I was asked to write for The First Tee of NH.  The First Tee is a great youth golf program that aims to help young golfers fall in love with the game of golf, but more importantly they try to instill several lifelong lessons that translate into life outside of sports.

I love the game of golf, but never played for a team or competitively in tournaments.  I just play for fun.  I was given my first set of clubs as a bright eyed 3rd grader by my best friend’s father.  Luckily, he was a lefty too.  He also set me up with one lesson from the local pro, and after that, off I went to figure it out on my own.  Several of my friends played competitive golf in youth tournaments (some of which I caddied) and continued to compete all the way through high school.  I loved football too much to play on the golf team, so I only played with them for fun.  But when you play with people who are better than you,  there is only one thing to do….FIND A WAY TO GET BETTER!  As we got older, they got better, and I got stronger. The only reason I was able to hang with them on the course was because I could hit the ball further.  I continue to play golf today, and have gotten a little bit better, holding a handicap in the single digits, I still don’t have the touch that my friends do, but I can still hit the ball further, and give myself a fighting chance because of that. 

I guess that was just a long intro into getting to the point that because I played other sports, and am athletic, I was able to draw on previous athletic experiences to “figure out” my own style of golf game.  Nowadays youngsters are “playing” less and less and participating in year long single sports more and more.  Tremendous growth can be attained by playing.  Not the playing that happens while on organized teams but rather the type of play that happens when in the backyard with buddies or on a playground where the rules and teams are made up by the kids without the help or instruction of adults. 

Huge motor development growth occurs when adolescents are subjected to a vast array of athletic situations such as running, jumping, climbing, playing tag, crawling, somersaulting, wrestling and many more.  Just because your child plays on 3 different travel teams throughout the year doesn’t mean they have the motor control, strength, or coordination to be a resilient athlete who will be less susceptible to over-use and non-contact injuries.  Adults are stopping huge growth in athleticism, self-confidence, and self-worth because they are hovering over top of their children and not letting them explore movement, fail, figure it out for themselves and creating the success on their own. 

let the kids play

So what can we do to combat this?  LET THE KIDS PLAY!  Let them make up games, and teams, let them climb trees, skin their knees, try as many different sports as possible and have self guided discovery.  As adults we try and make things easier for children, and we may be handcuffing them to gain some of the best learning experiences they will get in their lifetimes.  Failure isn’t a death sentence, on the contrary, it will allow the kids to learn what doesn’t work, what ways are faster, what ways are harder, and what they enjoy the most.  Let exercise, activity, and play become a lifelong journey.  By creating the healthy habit of play as a child, we are setting them up for a life of health, wellness, and curiosity. 

A Different Take on Resolutions

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Being in the fitness industry at the start of the new year is always a fun time.  Waves of new people are flocking to the gym.  These people are a mix of motivated, excited, nervous, and overwhelmed.  So hopefully, if you fall into the category above this post can help you stick to your resolution for more than a couple weeks.

We all have this beautiful picture in our brains that the next year is going to be so much different, we are going to take control of our lives, drop those 20 pounds, eat super “clean” (whatever that means) and all of a sudden look like the person on the cover of (insert your favorite fitness or trashy magazine here).  Well, hate to break it to you, but life is still going to happen in 2016.  The kids will get sick, you’ll have to bring 3 kids to 5 different places, there will be deadlines for work, you will have to travel for work, pizza will still taste good, and that beer at the end of the day is still going to be refreshing.  But not to worry!  You can still hit all of your goals even with all the curve balls that life throws at you.

Below I will try to get you to think about making your resolutions a little bit differently this year, and with some hard work, mental toughness, and some sweat, we can get where we want to be!

  1. Behavior over Outcome– This might be the hardest thing for most people, especially because we live in a world where everything is outcome orientated.  The end result is more important than the process.  Well I’m here to tell you that it is the opposite.  If we can get you to focus on the process of things, rather than the final outcome, we will have a better success rate.

Typical Resolution: I’m going to lose 20 pounds, 15 inches, and eat nothing but kale smoothies.

kale

 

Realistic Resolution: I’m going to go to the gym at least 3 times per week with a full body resistance work out, prep my food for the week, and start keeping a food journal.

The first resolution is what most people will tell themselves at the start of the new year, and don’t get me wrong, I love the confidence and motivation, but I guess you could call me a realist, or a Debbie Downer, but I see the person who makes that first resolution fizzling out after 2 weeks.  The second resolution is more realistic, and it is behavior orientated, not outcome orientated.

If we can change the behaviors that are stopping you from getting you to your goals, we get you to your goals.

Say this:  I’m going to get at least 3 hours of exercise per week.

Not that:  I’m going lose 30 pounds.

2.  Change one thing per month-   One of my favorite lessons I learned going through the Precision Nutrition Level 1 program (if you haven’t heard about PN, do so.) was the lesson about success rates when trying to change/introduce a new behavior into the mix.  Now I am paraphrasing, but you will get the gist,  if we try and change one thing in a month, we have about an 80% success rate, but if we try and change more than one thing per month our success rate drops to about 20%.  That’s wild to me.  So many times people are so ready that they totally flip their lives upside down because “that’s what they’re supposed to do”.  Well I call bullshit.  Fix one thing before trying to fix another thing.  If you don’t drink enough water, that’s what you should work on first.  Start drinking more water.  Then next month, lets work on something else.  So with that being said, lets dive deeper into goal setting.

3. Goals- There are different types of goals: long term, immediate, life style, work, financial goals, and the list could go on.  But they all need to have the same characteristics.  they need to be tangible, specific, measurable, time sensitive, written down, and talked about with the ones who are around you.  Now all of your goals are different, and they have different motivation behind them… But they should be written down so you can hold yourself accountable, spoken about with your friends and family, time sensitive so that you can again hold yourself accountable, measurable so you can see if your plan is working, and tangible so that you can actually tell if you’re making progress.

Each goal can be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals. The smaller goals will get accomplished faster, which will give you more confidence to make more goals and crush them too.

A lot of small goals achieved = A massive goal achieved.

This goes back to the realistic and non-realistic resolutions… same mindset, lets make these goals process orientated.

Think of it this way… if I have 60 pounds that I should lose because my doctor says I am on the path of Type II Diabetes and my blood pressure is through the roof and I’m getting pressure from my significant other and I get tired playing with the kids after 10 minutes, it can be a pretty overwhelming situation.  60 is a big number and with all of that extra added stress, its even bigger.  But you know what isn’t a big number… 3.  The hours you want to spend exercising per week.  Start crushing that goal consistently, and lets see what happens with the weight.  Next goal, lets start meal prepping on Sundays (insert whatever day works for you), and lets crush that goal for a couple weeks, then lets keep adding onto those goals. 

As you can see, those goals are measurable, time sensitive, and more importantly, process orientated.

goal-focus-process

 

4.  Little progress is still progress- We live in a world that is looking for the fastest way to do anything.  We have become lazy, entitled, and soft.  But that’s left for another rant.  But its another mentality shift that may be hard for a lot of people, especially those who are struggling with weight or health.  There are shows that are on TV where people lose 150lbs in 9 months, and yes, it is amazing, but at what cost?  If you were to look back at all the contestants, I’m sure there are more than a handful who are still overweight, and maybe even heavier.

A little bit of progress is still progress.  It may take longer than more people are expecting, but hey, you didn’t get overweight overnight did you?  So why do you expect to be a stick figure overnight?    The longer it takes, the longer it stays.  If we can consistently (insert your goal: lose weight, gain muscle, drop body fat) we will keep our achievements for a longer time.  That is the trouble with big fad diets, cleanses, juice diets, etc, we drop a ton of weight, but the lifestyle isn’t consistent, so we roller-coaster right back up after we stop.  These changes need to be a sustainable lifestyle change.  But don’t get it twisted, a good nutritional program, or training program will have results.  If you aren’t getting results, we either don’t have the right plan, or we aren’t adhering to the plan as well as we need to be.  Adherence is the hardest part, but it is the most important thing.  Consistency is king.

5.  Support Network- Lets look at the extreme end of this:  if one of your family members was an addict, and only hung out with other addicts, for them to overcome their addiction, they must change their surroundings. I think we all agree about that.  So lets use this analogy, and put it into the nutritional and fitness world… if your friends and family drink soda, eat McDonald’s 3 times a day, and their idea of fitness is Wii Boxing, we have a problem.  You will never get to your goals if you are surrounded by people who don’t have the same mindset as you.   Now am I saying to ditch all your friends and family who don’t go to the gym? No.  But what I am saying is that lets reevaluate how important your goals are, and how much time you are spending with people who aren’t supporting you in your goals.  And who knows, maybe you can be the one that helps them change their lives as well.

Having a gym buddy is a great way to stay accountable.  Letting yourself down is easy, we can always make an excuse for ourselves not to do something, but when you make plans to go to the gym with somebody, you aren’t letting just yourself down anymore, you are letting someone else down. And that is harder to do.  Another great way to stay more accountable is to sign up for classes, or sessions with a trainer.  Group fitness is shown to get better results.  Everybody has that competitive nature, and the community aspect is great.  And guess what, there is your new support network with like-minded people.

 

Anyway you slice it, the New Year brings a bunch of motivation, which is awesome.  But lets use our brains a little bit more, and have a rock solid game plan for the year so that you aren’t in the population that starts going to the gym in January and stops by March.

If you would like help on creating your plan, or finding somebody in your area to do so, please feel free to email strebelp@gmail.com.